Curriculum adaptation as a social instrument to compensate for differences experienced by deaf students

2.2 Identity and professional learning in new and diverse ecologies
Paper in a Symposium (Symp)
10:24 AM, Friday 1 Sep 2017 (27 minutes)
To attend to the diversity in the classroom, in an inclusive educational context, the school needs to adjust and enable a proper environment, so that everybody learns and develops their potentialities. It has to rethink the paradigms that base its actions and combine approaches that can offer educational responses to the students’ differences, their capabilities and interests. A tacit principle of inclusive education, the treatment of diversity requires not only that the space of the school and the classroom be shared by all, but that equality of opportunities become a reality, especially, regarding the development of cognitive competencies and cultures, directly related to the curriculum. The debate about equality of opportunities starting from the curriculum, in this context, becomes essential, because it is at school that the students build the base of their cultural education. However, according to Sacristán (2000), it is difficult to find equal opportunities in the curriculum because of the different sociocultural origins of the students that enter the school. Nevertheless, the authors suggest that there should, at least, be a curricular proposal for social compensation of differences, since they will hardly be fully equal. Socially compensating the differences would be a way of treating the diversity within the scope of the school, so that everyone could internalize the common curricular basis, and bearing in mind their cultural differences. This can be implemented by different formulas in search of pedagogical effects that approach the equality of opportunities. An effort must be made, however, to alter the teaching methodology, invest in teachers’ continuous education and adapt the syllabus. This is the principle of comprehensive education: to make efforts at different levels and of different kinds so that everybody has access to the basic curriculum. Concerning the students with specific educational needs, Vygotsky (1924) points the path of compensation as an educational model. In his studies, the “less” of the disability becomes the “plus” of the compensation. The proposal doesn’t consist in eliminating the disability, but in reducing the difficulties generated by it, because, although the origin of the shortfall is organic, overcoming it must be social. It is fundamental, therefore, to create an enabling and integrating learning environment that will promote development, and this is carried out by the teacher - who is responsible for searching for alternative routes and different strategies that may conduct to the development of the superior psychological functions. Looking from this angle, the selection of cultural contents must be even more careful, since it is through them that the cognitive development of the students will take place. The National Curriculum Guidelines shares this idea, by affirming that the concept of inclusive schools implies new positions regarding the curriculum, the methodology of teaching, teacher education, evaluation, the learner’s attitude and the different ways of social integration (Brasil, 2001). From this perspective, the different students’ profiles that enter the school need to be considered in the curricular construction and development, as well as the individual peculiarities, so that what Young (2000) calls “internal exclusion” does not occur, thus creating discrimination zones, in which, although the students are in the same class, they are separated by the curriculum. Thus the curriculum of the inclusive schools has to differ from the traditional approach, where students’ shortfall are emphasized, leading to a depleted curriculum and misrepresentation of its reality, with precarious shapes of evaluation and a controversial planning. Aims to, in this way, a flexible curriculum - essential for the implementation of inclusive proposal - attentive to the needs of students and seeks to adapt, because its design that everyone can learn, though in different ways. A curriculum that boosts the organization of learning and that gets ahead of the development of the student, through good teaching. If, as Vygotsky affirms, learning that is well organized boosts development and generates new learning, then the school, especially the teacher, must be attentive to the “good teaching” mediational procedures also for the deaf students (OLIVEIRA, 1993). in other words, to mediational processes that are capable of promoting a meaningful teaching and learning process, that values the student’s potential, their previous knowledge, the daily concepts and the zones of proximal development - ZPDs, defined in Vygotskian terms, as the distance between the level of the real learning and the level of potential learning. In view of this, it becomes necessary to adapt the curriculum in a way that the contents addressed in the classroom, the integrative experiences promoted by the school and the construction of meaning upon the aspects of the culture historically transmitted be accessible, despite the different nuances of learning. This means creating opportunities and specific contexts of action in which the students develop, discover and make evident their abilities and competencies. And this happens when the school mobilizes, focused in educate and answers for everyone. The idea consists, therefore, in making sure that the curricular adaptations are constituted as tools that welcome and celebrate the differences in the classroom. Regarding the deaf students, the prescribed adaptations at the level of national politics of teaching- learning includes the use of specific materials and equipment, written texts complemented with elements that favor their understanding, sign language, alternative communication system adapted to the possibilities of the students in the classroom, classes for speech and rhythm training, and visual material of support to favor the grasp of the information orally exposed (BRASIL, 1998). These and other curricular adaptations are fundamental in order for the deaf students to have an environment with varied possibilities, fundamental for the learning and social and educational integration. In this direction, this paper, dissertation thesis, aims to investigate how the curricular adaptations have been implemented at mainstream education schools that have deaf students enrolled. It also aims to critically understand if the relation between the participants - researcher and research participants - contributes to the development of the curricular adaptations. Supported by Vygotsky’s sociocultural historical theory, the research is also based on contribution found on National Teaching and Learning policies and on authors as Bueno (2001), Mendes (2006) and Fidalgo (2006), who discuss the inclusion issue. Methodologically speaking, it follows a qualitative paradigm, using the Critical Research of Collaboration (MAGALHÃES, 2014; FIDALGO, 2006) that enables the researcher to intervene dialogically and dialectically to transform whatever requires new perspectives. The collaborative research has been featured as an innovative path more related to the educational field because it turns its attention to the transformation of the subjects and the learning and development situations that can occur collectively at the educational institutions. The data were collected by observation of Portuguese classes of teacher that teach at elementary schools, in classrooms that have deaf students enrolled, besides the use of interviews and reflective sessions (Magalhães, 2006). Partial results show that curricular adaptations in the educational project - translated as adjustments and flexibilities in the school curriculum that does not always generate individualized adaptations - in the curriculum level developed in the classroom - procedures performed by the teacher that emphasize how to make and refer to changes in the methodological didactic aspects that promote active student participation in the teaching-learning activities - and at the individual level - consisting of the teacher's actions focused on assessment and individualized care to the student, in order to understand the factors that interfere and / or hinder their teaching-learning process - has not been implemented by teachers in curriculum development. This stems in part from deficits in initial teacher education and the lack of continuing education in the perspective of professionalization - that recognize as producer of their professional identity and outlining the basis of its performance before problems situations -, thus showing unprepared to act against diversity. The results indicate also that the relationship between researcher and contributes to the development of curricular adaptations, although it is a priority to invest in initial and continuing training of quality process. Upon the exposed, we understand that it is pressing to think about the curriculum when it comes to the education of deaf students as per the inclusive educational perspective and to promote the creation of schools for all. That is why it is central that the schools establish support systems for the teacher, alters the methodology and the narrowness of the curriculum, in order to attend to and provide the development and learning of everyone. When talking about curriculum at the level of inclusive education, we want to highlight that the paper does not intend to recreate it, with content suppression or elimination of subjects, as if the students with specific needs could not learn as the others. On the contrary, it is about adapting the curriculum, considering the students’ specificities, focusing on their capabilities and the zone of proximal development. In this way, the curricular adaptations are set as acting possibilities to face the students’ difficulties. What is aimed for is the search of solutions for the specific needs of the students and not a learning and teaching failure (BRASIL, 2001). What is intended with such proposal is that the school adapts itself to the students, in order to offer them the fundamental conditions for their access and permanency, in favor of a high quality education for all.
Universidade Federal de São Paulo - UNIFESP

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